EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 13, 2013

Your view: Letters to the editor

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Football injury claims don’t match facts

To the editor:

I am writing in response to the letter by Charles Hosterman in The Eagle-Tribune Oct. 3. I do appreciate the concern for child safety and community interest that Mr. Hosterman has shown. He also questions parents of 5- to 7-year-old Pop Warner participants, where their “brains and common sense” are located. And he suggests the need to “rethink their values.” The letter states “the NFL is investigating serious head trauma among pro football players.” Well, I should certainly hope so, Mr. Hosterman! Yet, this vague statement is void of any scientific research or study.

I happen to be one of the parents of a 7-year-old on the team. And while some may feel this automatically puts me at bias to respond, I also will inform from a medical/scientific research standpoint. My basis for knowledge has been working for several years as a registered nurse in neurosurgery and orthopedics in a local urban trauma center and currently I am a clinical nurse educator with a local visiting nurse agency. I can assure Mr. Hosterman I have done my research related to head trauma, sports related injury and traumatic brain injury. I must keep up with the latest evidenced based studies and clinical practice and literally it impacts the way I work and live everyday.

A traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” -- a brief change in mental status or consciousness -- to “severe” -- an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.

The majority of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI (CDC, 2013). Mild TBI (mTBI) accounts for 80-90 percent of all treated cases. Pop Warner football involves children age 5-14 to participate in tackle football, and according to CDC, this age group is less likely to sustain a TBI.

The Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York completed a Pop Warner injury survey in 71 towns covering over 5,000 players in 1998. The injury experience of 5,128 boys (8 to 15 years of age, weight 50 to 150 pounds) participating in youth football revealed an overall rate of significant injury of 5 percent, with 61 percent classified as moderate and 38.9 percent as major injuries. That’s about 1.33 per team per year. No catastrophic injuries occurred, and it was rare for a permanent disability to result from any injury.

Pop Warner age and weight restrictions are strictly adhered to on a weekly basis, with opposing team staff bearing witness prior to each game. Hosterman’s suggestion of a small-framed 5-year-old being “slammed” by a much larger 5-year-old, is not a reality given the restrictions.

I firmly believe the community has safety as a priority for our youth. We will continue to foster teamwork, commitment and safety into our children through Pop Warner football. You absolutely have the right to formulate an opinion in support or against any group or activity, but to submit such opinionated jargon, devoid of any research basis is ignorant. I sincerely hope you have found this research as valuable as I have to increasing your awareness of sports related head injury.

Katelyn Moreira


Sullivan is right for School Committee

To the editor:

I wish to use this letter to endorse Gail Sullivan for Haverhill School Committee.

Her experience as a superintendent, principal and educator is a boon for our schools in this time of transition. The decisions being faced in the coming years affect not only our children but also our tax base and property values. For these reasons I am proud to endorse and work for the election of Gail.

Douglas Edison


Give Obamacare a fair chance

To the editor:

Republicans and Democrats have presented a clear choice for Americans to make: Do we want to continue the government shutdown and possibly freeze the debt ceiling, or do we want to give the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) a chance to work?

Let’s think a minute. Continuing the government shutdown and causing a debt ceiling freeze would definitely be, without question, disastrous for all Americans. We know this. On the other hand, if we give the ACA a chance to work it may be in all likelihood just what the doctor ordered to fix our present unsustainable health-care insurance system.

Without favoring any political party, let us just stand back and look clearly at our options. What should we Americans decide? Please consider: Is there any possibility, is it truly rational to think that if we adopt and support the ACA, it would be really so terrible for America? Do we truly believe that House Republicans must shutdown the government, that a possible debt ceiling freeze is warranted to save America from the “catastrophe” of the Affordable Care Act? Doesn’t this presumed “apocalypse” seem highly improbable?

I say let’s try the ACA. We may like it. By the way, is it possible that the (high) probability that we may like it, is exactly the fear of those who would shut our government down and threaten to freeze the debt ceiling. Is it possible that the ACA may be a good thing; that it would be a resounding success and dramatically strengthen the Democrat position in the eyes of the American people; that this result would be too intolerable a situation for Republicans and therefore they are pulling out all stops to kill the ACA?

Fellow Americans we must rise above our predispositions and look objectively at the facts, the probabilities we can reasonably expect to occur from either choice. When we do this we see that we must give the Affordable Care Act a chance. This should be our choice and we should contact our representatives and tell them so.

Charles Santagati